Washington County Fishing

Tregan, 10, from left, his father Chris and Gavin Baker pose for a photo at Blair's Optimist Park on Thursday after a nearby fishing trip to the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge.

Steinbaugh's Bait & Tackle

Despite an increase in business, Steinbaugh's Bait & Tackle of Blair has been able to keep its shelves filled with products fishermen want, owner Roger Steinbaugh said.

Ten-year-old Tregan Baker of Blair was happy to report a solid day of fishing Thursday at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge.

“Today I caught a lot of blue gill, a drummy and like three bass, but they were out of size,” he said.

His father Chris, brother Gavin, 12, and he had good luck last week in multiple fishing trips to DeSoto and the California Bend area north of Optimist Park.

“I don't know if its due to the flood with all the fish being in there, but the last time I went to DeSoto Bend, I didn't have any luck,” Chris said. “The past two days we went there — very good.”

His boys hooked quite a few fish themselves.

“It's because of the weather,” Tregan said.

“The first day we went fishing, I got this big catfish,” Gavin added.

“I caught a lot of blue gill,” his little brother noted.

The Bakers didn't have to look for room to cast out either.

“DeSoto Bend's not (busy),” Chris said. “We've been all different times of day and there's not a whole lot of people out there.”

Business, however, at Steinbaugh's Bait & Tackle in Blair has been booming recently as folks looked for activities to do with many entertainment options closed due to coronavirus concerns.

“We're doing in a week what we would usually do in a month,” owner Roger Steinbaugh said May 29.

His father, Wayne, came to Blair in 1933 and brought business ideas with him. The original Steinbaugh's opened in 1948 with boat motors as a priority in the 1950s. Partners brought in the bait and tackle business, too.

Since 2002, though, Roger has been exclusively selling fishing equipment after selling the motor business. He's kept his doors open during the COVID-19 precautions, backing off on some hours, but also by washing hands and wearing masks.

Business has benefited from those efforts. Steinbaugh said he's been well-stocked since before the pandemic and since, staying ahead of similar surrounding businesses. Customers, he said, have been able to to get what they want from him, including rods and reels — where he's seen increased sales.

Often times, the Blair business owner has seen new faces from Iowa and fisherman who took a break, but are now coming back.

“River fishing has been excellent,” Steinbaugh said, noting the DeSoto uptick noticed by the Bakers as well. The Bait & Tackle shop is a “perfectly good hobby” turned into a business, he added.

The Bakers, themselves, have enjoyed their recent fishing ventures.

“It's calming, it's quiet,” Gavin said. “I just reel in what I catch.”

That's the aspect Chris enjoys: Watching his sons reel fish in.

Steinbaugh's Bait & Tackle

Steinbaugh's Bait & Tackle of Blair has had an increase in business amid COVID-19 closures as more folks, seemingly, look to outdoor activities for entertainment.

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